The other night I gave a talk on how Petaluma’s agricultural heritage is reflected in its architecture. While discussing hatcheries several audience members were reminded of the Mortensen Hatchery which they thought was on Baker Street, but weren’t quite sure.
Jan Rodd, who brought up the subject, went home and looked at a city directory for 1963 and found a listing for Mortensen Hatchery at 620 Baker Street.
I followed up on this information and what should have been a simple research project became something else altogether.
Mortensen Hatchery was indeed on Baker Street, but its address was not always 620. Different sources give the address as 632 and 634 Baker Street. It also appears to have backed up to and been attached to the White Hatchery which was addressed as 219 Bodega Avenue.
The White Hatchery was established around 1910 by Jay L. White, the son of a Michigan farmer, and had a hatching capacity of 35,000 eggs according to Thea Lowry in her book Empty Shells: The Story of Petaluma, America’s Chicken City.
The Mortensen Hatchery appears to have been founded by Weaver J. Mortensen, a native of Nebraska, in 1944. Mr. Mortensen was no stranger to the poultry business having worked the previous 20 years or so for the Bonded Chick Hatcheries as well as the Pioneer and White Hatcheries.
I have yet to figure out if the White Hatchery and Mortensen Hatchery ever operated as one hatchery, but what I have discovered is that both buildings were torn down in 1993.
The site of White Hatchery has been incorporated into the back yards for the two homes on Baker Street.